Pay It Forward Day

Pay It Forward Day

November, 11 2015

By Design Team members Jennifer Condon and Melissa Piper

And so it was, on Pay It Forward Day, November 11, 2015, that the Class of 2015 came full circle. It all began in January at our opening Retreat when we received the 25th anniversary edition of Dr. Seuss’ book “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!”  Not so coincidently, 2015 is also LGS’ 25th year! The design team created an agenda that echoed the excitement of Dr. Seuss’ classic work of inspirational wisdom.  And so, “Oh, Pay It Forward Day” began…

Thank You

A special thank you to VIP Structures for sponsoring our class day.  The architecture-engineering-development firm has been a strong supporter of LGS for years.  CEO David Nutting joined our group and kicked off the day explaining how the ‘good old boy network’ is being replaced by LGS, “the new network”. Mr. Nutting expressed the importance of the relationships and contacts we make through our participation in the program. His key advice:

  • Stay involved
  • Keep in touch
  • Build a network
  • Work on the dream or challenge
  • Keep at it…stick with it

Congratulations! Today is Your Day!

Design team members Gin Gwak and Pat Harrington set the tone for the day: “Small things are meaningful.”  They shared a TED Talk, A Life Lesson from a Volunteer Fireman presented by Mark Bezos. Key messages from this short clip of a volunteer fireman so hopeful to be a hero (who, instead of being the one that saved the family dog in a house fire, was the one who ended up making the biggest impact by recovering shoes for the barefoot homeowner) included:

  • Don’t wait to make a difference
  • If you have something to give, give it now
  • Get in the game…save the shoes

When Things Start to Happen

Marlo Rienhardt introduced Jennifer Tom, Executive Director of Positively Pink Packages, an organization that has supplied over 6,000 diagnosis and chemotherapy care packages to breast cancer patients across Central New York.  Jennifer shared her journey through breast cancer diagnosis, recovery, and inspiration to make a difference for other breast cancer patients.  She introduced the class to the resources found in her packages, including the book, No Place Like HOPE by Vickie Girard.  Class members then had a chance to roll up their sleeves and Pay It Forward by assembling 50 care packages for Jennifer to distribute to those in need.

You’ll Move Mountains

To visually communicate the impact we have had throughout the year, David Bigtree, Jen Condon, and Jeff Pawlowski presented a map of Onondaga County that identified where Class of 2015 members reside, where our class volunteered, and where our class days were held.  They shared their stories where they have made a difference outside of class and where they are committed to make a difference in the future.  Each example was added to the map and class members were invited to identify the impact they have had on our community. By the end of the day, the map was reflective of all of our efforts and it was impressive to see how much our class has done. A few examples of where the class of 2015 is making a difference include:

  • Big Brother/Big Sister
  • Foster mentorship
  • Honor Flight
  • Hope for the Bereaved
  • Onondaga Lake
  • The Hotel Syracuse
  • Tour de Cure
  • Youth organization coaching


Life’s a Great Balancing Act

Pam Brunet provided the class with valuable information and inspiration to Pay It Forward with, assuring us that the LGS network will always be there for us.

Paying It Forward to a Future Class Member

During the planning process, the design team was reflecting on what a great experience this has been and how they wanted to Pay It Forward to a future class.  We decided to donate/purchase goods that were then raffled throughout the day. Prizes included tickets to Syracuse sporting events, local food and beverage items, and even a beer growler that was created in Syracuse.  The raffle raised over $600 for the LGS Scholarship Fund.


You Have Feet in Your Shoes

Mike Kuhn had the honor of introducing Jim Joseph, Dean of the Madden School of Business at Le Moyne College.  Mr. Joseph shared inspirational messages about how the network of Jesuit colleges and universities are developing “Global Jesuit Case Studies” inspired by a Le Moyne professor, resetting the idea that business should exist for communities, and not the other way around. He cited an example of a young, inspirational student that brought “Sustainability for Scholarships” to Le Moyne, which resulted in increased recycling at the school that funds a scholarship that helps fill the gap between the GI Bill and tuition for veterans. Very fitting, given this design day was on Veterans Day.

Mr. Joseph also shared his thoughts on leadership qualities, expressing that one cannot be a leader if they are not genuine. He also discussed his experience as head of Oneida Limited, and the experience of missing “globalization” and “casualization” and its impact on the company.

And finally, prompted by a class member, he left us with his feeling that Madden should have a voice in the economic development of upstate, that the case studies are a shift in how communities and businesses should interact.

Are we “living with one foot raised”?


Reflections Jeopardy: Oh, the Places We Have Been!

And then…the games began! Marlo Reinhardt emceed Jeopardy in a manner that would make Alex Trebek cringe with envy. Reflecting on our year together, the class broke out into the same groups we were organized into at our opening Retreat and competed against each other in a game of trivia that tested our knowledge of our class day events and experiences.

Your Mountain is Waiting

To end the day and our year-long journey, class members were gifted with a commemorative glass and David Rider and Melissa Piper toasted the group:


On a foggy day on the eleventh of November

We met at Highland Forest for an LGS day to remember


We began our journey at our January retreat

Developing friendships and contacts that can’t be beat


Not fully understanding the depth of our mission

We learned LGS helps set our course and position


From crosswalk festivals to sandwich races

We got to know our classmates, well…at least their faces


We’ve had great guidance from the LGS Staff

And thank the Board and sponsors for supporting our task


We met “movers and shakers” and local history makers

And tasted the best of artisan bakers


We had the support of our families and friends

And now can’t believe this is an “end”


It is bittersweet and may show on our faces

But we know we are off to some really great places!


We move on with leadership skills and community understanding

And are waiting to add our own special branding


We’ll face challenges, road blocks, and flops

That only make us stronger as we reach for the top


So today, join us in cheer and let’s celebrate together:

Here’s to 2015, The Best Class Ever!


With great sponsors like Dupli that supplied the day with Saranac’s finest, the group closed its final class day with some fun in anticipation of graduation to be held one week later at the Dinosaur Bar-B-Que.

The class also gifted Robin with a piece of artwork to commemorate the significant year and adorned it with handwritten messages of thanks.

“Oh, Pay It Forward!”  Design Team Members

Special thanks to our Design Team: Lisa Berardi, David Bigtree, Jen Condon, Heather Dera, Jin Eun Gwak, Pat Harrigan, Angela Hughes, Mike Kuhn, Jeff Pawlowski, Melissa Piper, David Rider, and Marlo Rienhardt.